MIL-OSI United Kingdom: Councillors agree next stage of addressing housing emergency Councillors in Edinburgh have approved an action plan as they work towards tackling the severe shortage of suitable housing in the capital. Published: February 29th 2024

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Source: Scotland – City of Edinburgh

Councillors in Edinburgh have approved an action plan as they work towards tackling the severe shortage of suitable housing in the capital.

Following the unanimous decision to declare a housing emergency on Thursday 2 November, the Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Committee agreed a report on Tuesday (27 February) which sets out actions to respond to the crisis.

The actions are based on wide engagement with our partner organisations and Councillors, including 14 engagement workshops which helped identify key priorities.

The measures outlined in the Housing Emergency Action Plan are expected to reduce the number of households in Edinburgh without settled accommodation. They include:

  • Reviewing the Allocation Policy for Council Homes to ensure it continues to enable fair access to housing, including consideration of protected characteristics, such as gender.
  • Improve the standard of repairs and repairs response for Council housing.
  • Ensure all relevant and appropriate partners are included and supported to resolve the housing emergency.
  • Improve the relationship between housing officer and tenant, ensuring local housing staff are visible in their localities and available to meet tenants where and when this is required.

It comes as the Council agreed to introduce a 7% rent rise for tenants over 10 years at the Full Council meeting on Thursday 22 February. In an effort to tackle the city’s housing crisis, the increase could raise around £2bn.

Around 80% of tenants in Edinburgh receive assistance with their rent in the form of housing benefits or Universal Credit. The council intends to extend its Tenant Hardship Fund to support households who aren’t entitled to this support to access funding if they struggle to afford an increase in rent.

Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener Jane Meagher said:

It’s so important that we take drastic action to protect the most vulnerable people in our city before it’s too late. The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has led to a demand for temporary accommodation in Edinburgh which far outstrips supply.

Having a safe, comfortable home is a basic human right so we’re determined to do everything within our means to put an end to this housing emergency.

The measures outlined in the Action Plan, along with the 7% rent rise which will allow us to repair, upgrade, and retrofit housing and to build and buy much needed social and affordable housing, go a long way in tackling the crisis. However, the reality is that we can only act within the financial limitations of being the lowest funded local authority in Scotland.

We need a concerted and co-ordinated response, and my thanks go to our partners who have shown support from the day we declared the housing emergency.  It gives me great confidence that we can work together to improve the situation, but we can’t do it alone.

“We need more support from the Scottish Government to end the crisis once and for all. Their decision to slash nearly £200m from the affordable housing budget comes at a time when we need vital funding now more than ever. I won’t stop fighting for fairer funding.

Published: February 29th 2024

MIL OSI United Kingdom